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Shoppers spent £130bn online in 2016 – 16% up on the previous year: IMRG

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The predictions were that 2016 would be the first year that smartphone shopping came into its own. Now IMRG figures suggest that shoppers spent more than £130bn online in 2016, some 16%, or £18bn, more than the same time last year – thanks to the fast growth of smartphone sales. The IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index says the growth went well beyond the 11% it predicted at the start of the year and reversed a trend of declining growth rates.

Some £25bn was spent on ecommerce over the Christmas period (from November 13 to December 24) alone, according to today’s figures. The IMRG and Capgemini now predict that in 2017, shoppers will spend 14% more than they did in 2016.

Mobile growth?

Sales via smartphones grew by 47%, year-on-year in December, according to the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, and accounted for 54% of all sales made via a mobile device. Tablets accounted for the other 46%.

A year earlier, smartphones were behind just 39% of sales via a mobile device. This year, sales made via a tablet were down by 3%, year-on-year.

Justin Opie, managing director, at IMRG , said: “Following a below-expectation year in 2015, online sales growth has shot back up to an extent that seemed highly unlikely at the start of the year. There are two key factors driving this. The first is that Black Friday became an ‘online’ event in 2015, and this seems to have had a lasting effect on people’s shopping behaviour and preferences – our Index has recorded strong growth for online sales ever since that day. The second is that sales through smartphones are continuing to grow at a very strong rate, which is increasing the times and places in which people can browse and engage with online retailers.”

Which sectors fared best – and worst?

Accessories and lingerie sales grew fastest online in 2016, growing by 38% and 33% respectively. Gifts (+26%) and footwear (+21%) both exceeded the index’s average growth rate. But online sales in the health and beauty sector fell by 3%.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini , said: “2016 was a turbulent year with a number of predictions for retail and beyond going against the status quo. Regardless, it was still a record breaking year for online sales – up 16% on 2015. Few would have anticipated the decline in sales made on tablets, but with sales made through overall mobile devices generating over 50% of visits, combined with the sweeping growth of both visits and conversions from smartphones, mobile continues to head towards being the number one sales channel.

“2017 will be filled with a level of uncertainty depending on the progress and impact of Brexit, however with the investment retailers are making in improving the customer shopping experience, I am sure it will be another record breaking year for online sales.”

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